Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Harry Stafford to Walt Whitman, 27 July 1878

Date: July 27, 1878

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03988

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Alicia Bones, Vince Moran, Eder Jaramillo, Nicole Gray, Stefan Schöberlein, and Elizabeth Lorang

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Laurel Hills N.J.
July 27th., 78.

My Dear, Dear, Friend,

I received the rubarb to-day, it came just in time:1 I have been sick for some time past, I took a dose of it as soon as I got it [illegible] I was [illegible] when [illegible] and [illegible] told [illegible] on [illegible] I look [illegible] I did [illegible] perhaps [illegible] were [complaining?] [illegible] up there.

Mr. Whitman, I want to ask [illegible] don't want [illegible] at me, it is this—do you think if I study and write all the spare time I have that in the corse of two or three years I would be able to be an editor? I have been thinking for about two months that I would like to be something, and I [illegible] that than [illegible] tryed to [illegible] it, [illegible] my [illegible] time [illegible] only of [illegible] you to think [illegible] what I have said and tell me what conclusion you have come to [when?]

I see you [illegible] work to-gather [illegible] have become settled, and our love sure (although we have had very many rough times to-gather) but we have stuck too each other so far, and we will until we die, I know.

I was down to see [illegible] Friday [illegible] him, as [illegible]ined [illegible] would [illegible] and I [illegible] out finding [illegible]

Mother2 is very sick and has been ever since I came home, she was taken sick that day I was up there. Father is well as usual: he was to market today with potatoes.

We are having a fine rain to-night down here, it hasn't come too soon either things were kneeding [illegible] will make [illegible]

[illegible] time [illegible] so [illegible] me [illegible] improve my [illegible] more.

Well I have to close as the paper is given out.

Your loving son,
H.L. Stafford

P.S. write soon and oblige yours.


1. Walt Whitman met the 18-year-old Harry Lamb Stafford (1858–1918) in 1876, beginning a relationship which was almost entirely overlooked by early Whitman scholarship, in part because Stafford's name appears nowhere in the first six volumes of Horace Traubel's With Walt Whitman in Camden—though it does appear frequently in the last three volumes, which were published only in the 1990s. Whitman occasionally referred to Stafford as "My (adopted) son" (as in a December 13, 1876, letter to John H. Johnston), but the relationship between the two also had a romantic, erotic charge to it. In 1883, Harry married Eva Westcott. For further discussion of Stafford, see Arnie Kantrowitz, "Stafford, Harry L. (b.1858)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]

2. Susan M. Stafford (1833–1910) was Harry Stafford's (1858–1918) mother. Whitman regularly visited the Staffords at their family farm near Kirkwood, New Jersey. Whitman enjoyed the atmosphere and tranquility that the farm provided and would often stay for weeks at a time (see David G. Miller, "Stafford, George and Susan M.," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings [New York: Garland Publishing, 1998], 685). [back]


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